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Horry County claims Sumter school officials knew about COVID-19 cases before football game

The Sumter High & St. James JV football teams remain in quarantine after multiple St. James players tested positive for COVID-19.

SUMTER, S.C. — Two South Carolina high school junior varsity football teams remained in quarantine Monday after students from one team tested positive for the coronavirus before game day last week.

This all happened at last Thursday’s junior varsity football game between Sumter High School and St. James High School (SJHS).

Horry County leaders say the two players who tested positive on their team were not at the game, but they did practice with the team earlier in the week.

They added that, “Prior to the beginning of the game, the SJHS coaching staff did notify Sumter coaches, Sumter athletic officials, and game referees/officiants regarding the positive SJHS players and SCDHEC’s determination that the game could continue as originally scheduled.”

RELATED: Sumter High School JV football team under quarantine

News 19 reached out to DHEC and a spokesperson for the department said “In the case of confirmed positive cases on athletic teams, there are many situational factors that should be considered when identifying potential close contacts and in determining who might need to quarantine. Each situation has varied unique considerations.”

They added that “DHEC will work with schools and athletic teams in helping to identify these considerations and in providing guidance, but the decision to continue activities is made by the individual schools.”

Meanwhile, in a statement to families Sunday, Sumter Schools said they were not told about the positive cases.

A spokesperson added Monday that, “Rather than relying on the opposing team to provide us with the information, moving forward our athletic directors will reach out to the opposing teams prior to a contest being played. To my knowledge, the game was played without any COVID-19 positive individuals on the field.”

Sumter players remain under quarantine as a precaution.

Horry County Schools said they decided to implement a quarantine for their players as well, but only after a staff member who works with the junior varsity football program also tested positive for COVID-19 after the game.

Credit: Sumter School District

“It was reported to SCDHEC on Friday, October 16, an athletic team staff member who works with the JV football program tested positive for COVID-19. This positive test result triggered an automatic exclusion of the entire JV football team from the school and any school events, as determined by SCDHEC. According to recent guidance by SCDHEC, if three members of a cohort (classroom, team, etc.) test positive within 14-days of each other, the entire cohort must be excluded from school and any school events for 14-days,” Horry County Schools said in a statement.

In a statement to families Sunday, Sumter Schools said they were “deeply concerned” by how the situation unfolded and said safety continues to be their top priority.